Evangelist Franklin Graham has called President Obama's guest list for Pope Francis' welcome this week "disgraceful and obviously inappropriate," even as the Vatican has reportedly objected to the White House's invitation to transgender activists, an openly gay bishop and supporters of abortion and euthanasia.
The guest list for a planned event at the White House's South Lawn to welcome the pope on his first full day in the U.S. on Wednesday includes Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a "Catholic social justice lobby" which allegedly supports abortion and euthanasia; Bishop Gene Robinson, former Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire who is the first openly gay Episcopal bishop in the country; Mateo Williamson, a former co-head of the transgender caucus of Dignity USA; and also activists from the LGBT group GLAAD.
"This is disgraceful and obviously inappropriate," Graham wrote on his Facebook page Saturday. "Is there no end to the lengths the president will go to in order to push his sinful agenda?"
Graham, who leads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said it is wise of the Vatican to "question President Obama's guest list" and that the list of guests "should raise a lot of eyebrows."
The Vatican has taken offense, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The presence of some figures is especially irritating, a senior Vatican official, who was not named, was quoted as saying. The Holy See worries that any photos of the pope with such guests could be interpreted as an endorsement of their activities. The official also wondered if the White House has invited any representatives of the U.S. anti-abortion movement.
Speaking to reporters, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday he didn't know who all have been invited. He added that no one should draw any conclusions on specific guests "because there will be 15,000 other people there too."
Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh wrote on his website noting that "some people are saying that this is perfectly Obama."
"He's got the pope coming, and he wants to insult the pope, put pressure on the pope, and challenge the pope, 'cause the Catholic Church -- and Obama's a leftist, and leftists hate the Catholic Church," he wrote. "Do not doubt me on that. The Catholic Church is in the top five of all-time biggest enemies for the American left and the worldwide left. And so here is, in one possibility, it is a designed effort to humiliate, challenge, make nervous, make uncomfortable the pope."
In June, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage will be legal across the country, Graham said Obama is leading the nation on a sinful course.
The president called the ruling a "victory for America." Prior to the court's decision, Obama had said, "There has been an incredible shift in attitudes across the country."
"But it is definitely not a shift for the good of America. The shift in attitudes he refers to is the moral decline we are seeing manifest daily around us," Graham wrote on his Facebook then.
"Accepting wrong as right—accepting sin as something to be proud of. Yes, that's definitely a shift. Should we be surprised that he thanked the LGBT community for all that they had helped him accomplish during his time as president?" Graham added, noting that Obama said, "A lot of what we've accomplished over these last six and a half years has been because of you."